A New Found Friend....From WAY on the Other Side of the Aisle

I have recently made a new friend in my cyber-world. He found my blog by way of a comment I had made on a blog that we both read. We represent opposite views on almost every issue, the quintessential Liberal vs. Conservative. The only difference is that so far at least, we are managing to dialog with one another or at least state our views without vitriol or nastiness. So, I've decided to cut and paste our conversation, as it were, here on my blog. I don't exactly have his permission, but I do beleive that he will be agreeable to it. So, here we are....Sherril wearing Blue Goves and a Blue Jacket with a big L embroidered on the back and Dave with his Red Gloves and Jacket with a Capital C on each sleeve. Come out fighting.......

So, this is how it started...
Substituting "progressive" for "liberal" really doesn't fool us red-state types. I don't doubt your sincerity--just your worldview.
# posted by Dave : 3/18/2006 07:50:06 PM

And then I responded with...


I think you may have commented today on my blog and I was curious to understand what you meant by your comment. If you are that Dave, please return and elaborate.


And then this email arrived....

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 7:56 pm
Where to begin?

It was a pleasant surprise to hear from you again, Sherril (which I am at least spelling correctly this time). I figured it was a case of one quick answer and out. Actually, I only went to your blog originally because you had responded to something on Tracey's "Worship Naked" blog and occasionally, if I'm browsing, I'll click on the websites of people who give interesting responses. Most of her links and blog addresses are those of distinctly spiritual but non-political people, besides which hers is a distinctly Christian blog attracting people who seem to be, in generally, at least socially conservative, so it was a source of, frankly, irritation to come across your material. I read whatever it was I responded to and thought, "Well, THAT pisses me off," snapped over a quick note, and thought that would be the end of it.

I know what I believe and, anymore, pretty much despair of changing anyone's mind, especially over the internet since so many of the sites and arguments get reduced to name-calling rather than reasoned arguments.

I WILL post any further comments on your blog rather than via e-mail, and thank you for the invitation to do so. To answer your question, I don't have a blog of my own. I haven't really thought of doing that, although I like to read the blogs of others. Part of the reason is I wonder if I really have anything to say that isn't covered in the thousands of other blogs. Another is that free time is a precious commodity and a blog is a time-consuming endeavor, a problem that will be partly solved by the fact that I'm retiring April 15th. I'm (gasp!) 62. That may be a little early, but 10 to 12-hour workdays have been pretty much a routine of my working life, and I don't absolutely need the paycheck anymore to be not rich, but at least financially comfortable. There are too many other things I want to do with what's left of my life to let work get in the way. I suppose another impediment to doing a blog is that my work has usually been, in one way or another, a way of expressing myself.

This one might be more than a little bit long, which is why I'm not going to fill up your blog with it. You said some things somewhat casually which I think warrant, if not demand, a response, even though some of them you said casually. I don't expect to convert you, but I do want you to be aware, if you aren't already, that there are ramifications on certain issues which you're either ignoring or choosing to pass by. I mean, you listed a bunch of things you are for, and *I*m* for those things, too, but they're not as simplistic as you seemed to think when writing about them. (I recognize the irony of my saying that, since conservatives are usually the ones who get accused of thinking simplistically.)

"SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE." Yes, indeed, but bear in mind that ALL laws are value judgments, traditionally based in this country upon a Judeo-Christian ethic. We have determined that it is MORAL to have laws against murdering, robbing, etc., and for giving children equal educational opportunities, and taking care as a society of the helpless, weak and indigent in our midst. Laws are based upon a shared morality, and the morality initially came to us from religious sources. So total separation of church and state is impossible and, in my judgment, counterproductive.

OK, the Church - State issue. I think you state the obvious by saying that our laws are based on the Judeo-Christain religions, i. e. thou shalt not murder, steal, etc. Fine we are agreed on this. But what is unique in our kind of democracy (not to say that there aren't others who share this in Europe and Israel), is that we are free to practice any religion we choose and to practice none at all. The more specific religions mess around with government and laws, the more we will dilute these freedooms. You can't be free to practice no religion if the day begins with a religious prayer. You can't follow secularism if religious doctrine And becomes the norm. It is in the interest of everyone to keep a healthy distance between Church and State. Then and only then can we all celebrate our religions or lack thereof in all their glories, without fear of interference or reprisal. Basically it's live and let live. Don't push your version of god or no god on me and I will give you the same courtesy. That doesn't mean that religion can not be discussed in te so called townsquare or marketplace, it can and it will be. But it can not be sanctioned by the government.

OK, so that's one down and so many more to go. Hmmm. I really like Tracey's blog, Worship Naked and I don't see it as especially Christian or even particularly spiritual. I especially love the posts on her niece, Piper. She writes so well. She makes me feel like I have a stake in that little girl. And her artful postcards and jellies and such. I guess I just haven't come across the more religious posts. I have found a few blogs that I enjoy. I like the political ones, but I most especially like the ones I come across that deal with adults and their children. I found one where the daddy posts every day via the words that his baby would use if his baby used words. It makes me feel like I'm a cyber-auntie..

I had to laugh when you wrote, I'm "gasp", 62! I laughed because that is exactly how I write when I offer my age to someone. I am "gasp" 54!! But I am a very young 54!

'THE FREEDOM OF A WOMAN TO CHOOSE TO HAVE A BABY." Sounds like what I was advocating when I was doing radio talk in 1972, a year BEFORE Roe v. Wade. Who could be against "choice?" And then a caller wondered if I had ever seen photos or movies of fetal development, or of abortion. I hadn't, and I subsequently did, and I also saw pictures of aborted fetuses and became familiar with what had previously seemed to be a simple surgical procedure. The truth is that what you would call a fetus and I would call a baby dies a horrible, painful death by dismemberment. At that time I was also a very secular person. Later I went through a mid-life crisis and changed, and became convinced that every conception is a creation of God rather than a piece of biological happenstance--and, no matter how horrible the circumstances of the creation, is intended by God to live and flourish. Yeah, I know you're probably gagging by now, because on this issue there is no chance of compromise, and both sides are dug in to the bitter end. Yes, I am for biological freedom, which means the use of contraceptives and making the choice whether or not to engage in "unprotected" sexual activity. But also believe we are to be responsible and accountable for the decisions we make. The assumption of pro-choicers is that the woman is fully human and the fetus is not, or that the rights of the woman take precedence over the rights of the child, and I reject both arguments.

To which I replied....

Oy, v'Voy!!! Where oh where do I begin? I may be intelligent, but I am a very slow reader, so you can imagine how long it took me to read your discourse. Anyway, I really don't know where to begin. I am not a religious person and I will start with the abortion issue, what one has to do with the other, I am not sure. It happens that in the Jewish religion, the belief is that life doesn't begin until the soul is in the body which takes place at birth. Having said that, I would be loathe to have an abortion after the first trimester. My field, professionally, is in the area of infancy and young childhood and I am very aware of every stage of development of the fetus. I have two children and I followed along every step of the way as they as fetuses developed. I also had a miscarriage, that might be called god's own way of having an abortion...don't know. The majority of abortions are done, I believe, in the first trimester. Typically if they are done after that, there is a very good reason for it. I work with premature babies and there is no one who is more in love with this stage of life. Babies and toddlers are my very favorite people. And I am completely Pro-Choice. With the amount of child abuse and neglect in this country and the world, given a choice, abortion would be more favorable to being born to people who are not equipped to raise children. I also believe in the sanctity of life. And life as a human being begins at birth. Before that, it is a fetus. I hate the idea of abortion, but I will continue to fight for a woman's right to have one and here's another clinker for you, the choice being only hers if she so chooses. Men have the upper hand in many aspects of life. In many societies, it is still a man's world. But birth is the sanctity of a woman. We grow the baby. We feed the baby within our bodies. And all to often we raise the babies by ourselves, even when a good husband is around. The choice must be our own. I believe that to my core. Of course, in the best of circumstances, the choice is made by a couple, with the professional advice of the doctor and if the couple want, the spiritual advice of a spiritual leader. But push come to shove, it is the woman's right to choose. By the way, the conversation, in my opinion should be around how to avoid unwanted pregnancies and how to fill the lives of young, often impoverished, poorly educated women who have little in their lives and think a baby will fill the void.

"SUPPORT OF PUBLIC EDUCATION." You bet, if you mean the right of every child to have an equal opportunity for a quality education. Living as close as I presume you do to NYC or Philadelphia, you must be aware that inner-city children have no such opportunities. Their schools are a travesty and mostly breeding grounds for violence. There is nothing educational about them. And yet every proposed solution to give the parents of those ghetto children another option where their kids truly CAN learn, such as Charter Schools or a voucher program, get the bitter opposition of the teachers' unions. Such a trend would diminish their power, and power is what the NEA and the AFT are all about. Education is not. Look sometime at where they spend their money. More than half their budget goes to left-wing causes that have nothing at all to do with education. School districts that spend the most money on public education often get sub-par results. The D.C. schools eat up a huge amount of taxpayer money, and they are the worst in the nation. In its ideal form, you bet I support public education. I'm a regular Horace Mann. I just wish the people in charge of it supported public education. In my opinion, they don't. Did you see the Clintons or the Kennedys enrolling THEIR children in the D.C. public school system?

As for the education issue, I think you know that charter schools are not the issue. The issue is giving people money to go to Religious Day Schools. Of course I agree that the inner-city schools are failing, but I strongly disagree that there is "nothing educational about them" My daughter who is 25, graduated from Brandeis University, spent a year in AmericCorps, N*CCC and then took an alternative route to teaching, by being in the NYC Teaching Fellow's program. She teaches math in one of the largest schools in the city. She is so dedicated and really gives her best to teach these kids. She is working against all odds since the majority of the kids come to her without the basics in arithmetic, no less mathematics, but still, she does teach them. And there are others like her. According to my daughter, it is the older teachers who teach like they don't really care and I have to assume that wasn't always the case. Burn out has to be huge in the inner-city schools. I agree that there is much to be changed in the system. However, like everything else,most things have to be backed by bucks and big bucks are needed for Education with a capital E. It seems to me that conservatives are always talking about the liberals throwing good money after bad. It is not an issue of putting the money in or not. Money is necessary. Money pays teachers and buys books and cleans and repairs and builds schools and pays for continued education , etc etc etc. It is of course how the money is spent and Conservatives are every bit as guilty as Liberals at mis-spending money. Just look at the thousand dollar toilet seat covers at the Pentagon. Bad judgement is bad judgement and there is enough of that to go around.

You asked about my interpretation of the phrase "bleeding heart liberal," and why it is a term of derision among conservatives. Part of it is what seems to us conservatives as the "throw money at the problem" mindset of liberals, which as I've tried to demonstrate in the paragraph above is not the prime solution. It goes much farther than that, though. Liberals generally believe that human nature is improvable; conservatives hold no such illusions. Many, perhaps the majority, of people who go on welfare want to STAY on welfare. Why work when you can get freebies from the government? Or, as I would put, why be productive when you can live as a parasite off the productivity of others? Technologically, and especially in the 20th Century, human ingenuity has advanced by leaps and bounds. Human nature has not. Think of any terrific invention, including the internet, and scores of examples leap to mind of many people using that technology for wasteful, frivolous or even evil purposes. The point of "bleedingt heart liberal" as a term of derision is that so many government programs, started with the best of intentions, actually end up making things WORSE, not only for the taxpayers but for the recipients of the programs. The only successful parents are those who are not afraid to practice "tough love" when the situation demands it, and the same principle holds true for societies. Compare it to bicycle riding, if you want to go way back to your childhood. You learned how to be competent, and then good, at it by falling a few times. Now kids have protective helmets we didn't have, and training wheels we didn't have, and their parents are so worried about protecting them that they inhibit their freedom.

"HURT FOR THE UNDERDOG IN OUR SOCIETY AND IN SOCIETY AT LARGE." Of course. That's the American way. The liberal solutions, in my judgment, KEEP such underdogs in that status. They have no way of advancing, and spreading their own wings, as long as they live under the notion that they must have the government protecting them and looking out for them for a long, long time. What liberals are telling underdogs, and certainly telling the underclass, is nothing but an insult: "You can't make it without us. You are incapable of ever taking care of yourself. You need us to do it for you." And that is why there is such vitriol directed at the emerging set of black Republicans who see that argument for the sham it is, people such as the Lt. Governor of Maryland who is running for the Senate, or Lynn Swann running for Governor of Pennsylvania, or J.C. Watts who used to be in Congress. They are betraying the faith, the faith being hopelessness. It's also why Jesse Jackson can refer to NYC as "Hymietown" and get away with it. Can you imagine the reaction if a conservative said such a thing? He or she would NEVER be allowed to forget it, nor be forgiven for it.

Puh-lease, when it comes to anti-Semitism, you've got as many on your side as we have on ours. Unfortunately, ignorance and hatred know no political boundries. Take for example, Pat Buchanan and Rep. James Moran, not exactly examples of fine outstanding Conservative Republican Americans. Their latest examples are blaming the Jews for America's war with Iraq. I think I may even prefer the Hymie Town remarks to the following quote of the Bigot Buchannan: "We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America's interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars and destroy the Oslo Accords."
So, yes, I CAN imagine the reaction if a Conservative said such a thing becasue many have and it unnerves and frightens and outrages me and no, we should never let them live down their words.

And excuse me if I sound rude, but give me a break with the same old story about welfare. We all know that for every governmental program that is helpful to some, there will be others who will take advantage of it. We all know that there is a terrible cycle of poverty and welfare. WE are all, each of us, a product of our upbringing, as well as how society sees us. The problem on the large scale is not Welfare, per se. The problem is poverty, lack of education, Racism, and IGNORANCE on the part of those who should know better, but don't. Liberals do not enable poor people to stay poor. and your statement," What liberals are telling underdogs, and certainly telling the underclass, is nothing but an insult:" You can't make it without us is an insult to everyone and it is simply wrong. If I give you a hand up, I am not telling you if or how to make it. I am simply giving you a hand up. I worked in the inner-cities of NJ, such as Newark, East Orange, Orange and Irvington. I went to the homes of many black families who lived in conditions that were abominable. They would like it to be better for their kids. And those who don't thiink like that are usually so entrenched in the ghetto mentality and drug culture that it would take a lot more than getting a job to change their lives. I agree that human nature hasn't kept pace with technology, but that sure ain't the fault of Liberal minded people. Greed and not really giving a damn, and not recognizing the pity of Racism in this country....these are the problems. I worked with people who had little and still gave much. Unless you have also worked in the inner city, I have to assume that you don't really know what you are talking about when you speak of Welfare and Food-Stamps and such. If I am in need, give me a rich Liberl rather than a rich Conservative any day, as my helper. And give me the credit to live my life with dignity. Telling me that you pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps, a specialty of the Conservatives, especially if the skin under those bootstraps is white, won't help me at all. We walk in very different shoes. I apologize for coming across with some anger, but I guess I do feel angry when it comes to many of these issues. We are all so good at throwing around the epithets. But the bottom line is don't judge until you've walked in another's shoes. And one other thing. If you see what is wrong in our society, commit yourself to changing it for the better.

"I THOUGHT WE WERE SUPPOSED TO CARE ABOUT OTHERS AND PUT OUR MONEY WHERE OUR MOUTHS ARE." Again, agreed, but with a very important proviso: we are, as good Christians, good Jews, or just good human beings, supposed to do so VOLUNTARILY. That means through the private sector. There is nothing voluntary about taxation. You pay or you go to jail. That means it ought to be minimal, and all of it ought to be necessary, wisely spent and wisely managed. The more you are taxed, the less discretionary income you have for what we hope will be substantial charitable donations to help the less fortunate.

Oh, and one more thing in this regard. Your solution revolved around volunteerism instead of taxes. Well, first of all, Bush's government, in it's infinite wisdom, is taking money from the organizations like Americorps N*CCC, which not only does volunteer work on a large scale, but produces people with the right kind of values. Bush originally loved it and said he'd support it, but he is taking the funds from it. Also, I don't know how much you know about the Jewish religion, but it doens't have the same concept of charity as in the Christain religion. You said in your email that The more you are taxed, the less discretionary income you have for what we hope will be substantial charitable donations to help the less fortunate. The key word there is HOPE. In Judaism the word for "charity" Is "Tzedaka" and the nature of tzedakah is very different from the idea of charity. The word "charity" suggests benevolence and generosity, a magnanimous act by the wealthy and powerful for the benefit of the poor and needy. The word "tzedakah" is derived from the Hebrew root Tzade-Dalet-Qof, meaning righteousness, justice or fairness.http://www.jewfaq.org/tzedakah.htm In Judaism, giving to the poor is not viewed as a generous, magnanimous act; it is simply an act of justice and righteousness, the performance of a duty, giving the poor their due. Thus, seeing it this way, there is no need to hope that discretionary funds will by given to the poor, because it's an obligation and taxes are an obligation also.

'I THOUGHT THAT WE ARE SUPPOSED TO CARE ABOUT OUR ENVIRONMENT AND DO WHAT WE NEED TO DO TO KEEP IT HEALTHY, EVEN IF THAT MEANS AT THE EXPENSE OF LARGE CORPORATIONS." Again, agreed, up to a point. Who DOESN'T prefer clean air and water and pristine things in general to filthy ones, for reasons of both esthetics and health? But your sentence sounds as if you're thinking of corporations only in terms of what I admit are grossly overpaid executives. How about the thousands of people those corporations employ? Do we want to throw them out on the street without a source of income?

A little side note on that one. GM from what I read is mighty close to bankruptcy. I don't much care about GM's executives. They could retire comfortably right now. But think of thousands and thousands of unemployed autoworkers around Flint, Michigan, potentially unemployed for two reasons: (1) The UAW was TOO successful in securing benefits for them; the company can't afford those benefits anymore. (2) The company can't afford them because not enough people are buying GM cars. That's partly the fault of car designers and marketers, but it's also the fault of consumers. At least where I live, conservatives tend to drive American cars. LIberals, "the champions of ordinary working Americans," drive Japanese cars, or Volvos or Saabs made in Sweden. Check the cars of your own friends whose political persuasions you're aware of, just for fun (or possibly pain). The plain truth is, conservatives tend to think of themselves primarily as Americans, and liberals think of themselves, in many cases, more as "citizens of the world." I don't much give a rip what Europe thinks of America, because Western Europe is a decadent, nihilistic society anymore. It's everything I DON'T want America to be--and cradle-to-grave welfare systems have led Europeans to be less optimistic about their lives and their futures, not more optimistic.

As for those corporations who don't seem to care much about the environment, I don't see the connection between their being employers of many people people and the issue? Employment is great. But do you have to pollute to employ? If it is going to cost you a lot of money to put whatever is necessary into your equipment in order not to pollute, would it be so terrible if the people at the very top took the loss instead of their employees at the bottom or worse yet, letting employees go? EVERYTHING takes money and these Big Corporations have plenty of it. Use it to keep our environment clean. Try not to drill where it is not completley necessary. Save animals that are beautiful and a part of our natural ecosystem and if all that means you make a little less money or even a lot less money some years.....well, so be it. PLEASE, you know this is true. There is a lot of greed. I am not saying that the little people given the chance wouldn't be equally as greedy, but that sure doesn't make it right for the big rich people to be. That's why there are laws, to save us from our own human nature, sometimes.

There: see what happens when you get me going?

I have tried not to offend you, Sherril, but I also am loathe to sell out my own deeply-held beliefs, as you are loathe to sell out yours. I've written you from home this time rather than from work, partly so I can do such awful things as smoke and drink coffee while typing (I really am politically incorrect in all kinds of ways), and also because home will be pretty much where I "compute" after three and a half more weeks. I really do appreciate the heartfelt remarks you wrote, and--as we both might say about the other--it's really frustrating when someone who is obviously bright disagrees with us almost totally! I'm glad you had the Wichita State grad school experience (They're the "Shockers," I think, but I might be wrong about that). I love my own section of the country, and I suppose part of our resentment of people on both coasts is that they view us pretty much as flyover country.

See ya on your blog, unless you choose an e-mail response to let me know how utterly wrong I am about utterly everything!


So, yes our world views are very different and we won't change one another's minds. And I guess we both think we are right. But we can't both be right because our viewpoints are so different. Hmm, so what then???? See you on my blog???


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